Writing for Sci-fi

My first Mothership experience

01-11-2021 - 2 minutes, 29 seconds -
homebrew creativity ramblings writing mothership

notes Some of the notes before writing the Halloween one-shot

I've been fascinated and interested in running Mothership for the better part of this year and yesterday I finally got the chance. Coming from a background of running almost exclusively fantasy games, it felt a bit intimidating to jump straight into this hard sci-fi game.

I spent hours pouring over all the Tuesday Knight Games zines and pamphlets (yes, I went all in), and while those modules all look fantastic, I decided to make something of my own for this one-shot. You could say they inspired me and kicked me to action!

And then, the worst writer's block ever struck. I simply couldn't write anything that felt even remotely fun or interesting. I wrote dozens of handwritten notes and filled my phone with ideas, but it all just felt wrong. I still don't know exactly why, but I think it might have had something to do with being so comfortable and used to fantasy games. This was a huge departure from my comfort zone.

I watched some sci-fi movies and read up on this and that. Took inspiration from the Mothership modules, rolled on some tables in the Tome of Adventure Design and Stars Without Number, drew some spaceships and space stations. Still nothing.

I had a cool idea about monks with flamethrowers in a cathedral space station (think Sisters of Battle from Warhammer 40k). Then the absolutely fantastic Abilities Considered Unnatural kickstarter launched. I felt like the theme was a bit too similar and, wow, I was blown away by that quality. My confidence took a beating.

Back to the drawing table. Watched The Midnight Sky with George Clooney (didn't realize it was him until I saw the ending credits) and was inspired to make something with a frozen inhospitable planet. I made a rough sketch and notes. I started writing. It went slow and I hit several roadblocks. It was uncomfortable. I wanted to crawl back to my cozy fantasy tavern again. But I pushed through and made something good enough to use at the table.

This something became a pamphlet module called Bumpy Ride at Bore IX. It's about a mining colony at a frozen planet with an atmosphere that turns people into mindless monsters. It gives them superhuman speed and the ability to grow black spikes from their bodies that they can shower their victims with. It's also a whodunnit mystery adventure with a psychopath hiding among the unsuspecting miners.

The group really seemed to enjoy it! And all I could feel afterwards was relief that it wasn't a complete failure. It was incredibly difficult to juggle the rules of a system I'm not comfortable with, an entirely new adventure, sci-fi shenanigans that can never happen in a fantasy setting, all in a group of five players. But damn, it was fun!

I'm hooked.

Bumpy Ride at Bore IX will be published as a trifold pamphlet sometime this month. I'll post it here.